How will a Bigsby affect tone and playability ?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by tuumbaq, Mar 8, 2015.

  1. tuumbaq

    tuumbaq Member

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    Hey guys, I found a great deal on an R6 and would like to "spice" things up right off the bat with a Bigsby.

    Never owned one of those and Im thinking Id be fun/different to have my first P90 guitar equipped with a Bigsby.

    How would it affect string tension and sustain ?

    Lastly...Which model should I buy? Im a bit confuse with all thew different models , is it possible to buy one slightly aged to match the hardware finish on the Les Paul ?Im thinking something like this would probably work but Im not sure the finish would look the same :

    https://reverb.com/item/31234-bigsb...v7-kit-aluminum-gibson-les-paul-free-shipping
     
  2. henry_lee

    henry_lee Member

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    Hey there - congrats on the Les Paul.

    I'm prolly in the minority of Les Paul owners with a Bigsby fetish, but I highly recommend
    a B3 if you can get away with it. Your R6 would probably have a better neck angle than
    my 77 LP Deluxe Pro, so pretty doable with the right setup. I prefer the lack of tension
    bar of a B7, but I also run 12's on all my Gibsons. I do B6's on all my nice arch tops,
    so it's just a preference I've come to really like. Something about the "give" that a
    B3 or B6 Bigsby allows makes it feel so much more lively to my style playing.
    Also, no additional holes in the top or need for the extra hardware of a Vibromate.

    That said, I play a custom ES-135 with a B7 and it's pretty decent with a lower
    break angle over the tension bar / Nashville bridge.

    But the B7 with a Vibromate is a fairly reversible mod and less guesswork.
    I'd still think long and hard about drilling a minty R6, my 77 was already modded
    so it was a perfect candidate for a B3.

    Keep us posted with pics!

    Henry Lee

    [​IMG]
     
  3. tuumbaq

    tuumbaq Member

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    Thanks Henry, will post some pics for sure
     
  4. smiert spionam

    smiert spionam Member

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    I agree that a non-tension bar Bigsby will generally feel and play better, though a B7 and Vibramate can be pretty nice, too. An in-between option is to use a B3, but add a Towner tension bar, which installs on your stoptail posts. They can be set up so that they don't add nearly as much tension as a B5/7, and they look better, too.

    Regardless, I'd start with a B3.
     
  5. Sconnie

    Sconnie Member

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    the decrease in sustain will be noticeable. whether or not you think it sounds bad or good is totally up to you though
     
  6. Turi

    Turi Member

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    It'll affect the sustain a bit.

    But it won't make the guitar sound any different.

    Biggest issue will be whether you can actually get along with how rigid and stiff a bigsby is.

    I can dig it, but they really aren't for everyone.
     
  7. rumbletone

    rumbletone Silver Supporting Member

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    I'm thinking B3 and Towner for the SG I just picked up for stupid cheap (CDN$399). Sounds like the bar can be adjusted for varying break angles to taste.
     
  8. sixty2strat

    sixty2strat Member

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    Get a B7 with a vibramate. Did it to my 74 Standard and the playability is just as good if not better. The tone seems a bit more airy almost like a lt wt Tp on steroids. Try the Vibramate like suggested. like it keep it hate it flip it, no loss and if you ever sell the guitar no loss or issues
     
  9. winterblu

    winterblu Supporting Member

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    Never got along with Bigsby's myself.
     
  10. Whiskeyrebel

    Whiskeyrebel Member

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    That's a surprising way to describe it because in comparison to the force on a Strat style vibrato, the Bigsby feels like it takes a much softer push on teh hand, and is more linear (less of an initial preload to overcome).
     
  11. Mpcoluv

    Mpcoluv Supporting Member

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    I don't hate Bigsbys but I find that they get in the way of the controls on a Les Paul. Not a fan on Les Pauls. But this is my personal opinion.
     
  12. smiert spionam

    smiert spionam Member

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    Yeah, I'm having a hard time seeing how anyone could characterize a Bigsby as "stiff". A B5 or B7 is stiffer than a B3/B6, I suppose.

    A Bigsby on an archtop with a floating bridge is like the suspension on a '59 Cadillac. A little imprecise and wandering, but nothing feels better -- and it finds its way back onto the road with ease.
     
  13. Staggerlee

    Staggerlee Member

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    Yes, sustain will decrease and the attack on the strings will be a little softer. Bending will be easier but you will have to bend further in order to adjust for the Bigsby giving in.

    I had 2 Gretaches and I alternated Bigsbys and hard tails on them and I end up liking the Bigsby vibe more.
     
  14. Turi

    Turi Member

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    Well, it's pretty damn easy to characterise a Bigsby as "stiff".

    I'm not talking about pressing it down and actually using it, that's a piece of cake.

    I'm talking about how they feel to move from out of the way and into position ready for usage.
    That movement to me, is really unnatural on a Bigsby and feels really stiff or rigid to do - doing the same thing on a Strat trem feels really fluid and easy to do.

    You need to kind of change your whole picking hand dynamics to use a Bigsby in a smooth, natural way. You need to actually learn how to use them properly.

    I find them easiest to use when you basically play with the Bigsby arm in your palm the whole time - this feels way different to not playing like that, lol.

    With a Strat trem arm, you play how you want, and just grab the trem arm and go nuts, let go and it drops totally out of the way.

    You can't set a Bigsby arm up to do this, can you?
     
  15. 9fingers

    9fingers Supporting Member

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    I would not put a Bigsby on an LP. Part of what makes an LP an LP is the rigidity of the set neck, bridge and tailpiece setup, with the resulting focus and sustain. A Bigbsy is antithetical those things. The controls on an LP are right where the Bigsby arm would be. The arm would be in the way big time. Also, with the rather extreme back and side pressure of the the strings in the nut slots due to the headstock shape and angle it is really difficult to get the nuts slots on an LP cut just right so the it doesn't go out of tune with Bigsby use. (I know this from personal experience on LPs with Bigsbys I have worked on).
    I put a B5 on a Carvin SC90 (sort of an LP single cut with 2 volume & 2 tones control layout) and it ruined that guitar. Killed the tone and sustain and was badly in the way. I removed the Bigsby and it came right back to life.

    I DO like a Bigsby on a Gretsch for example, where a quicker attack & decay are expected, and where the controls are arranged around the Bigsby arm. I really don't think they fit well on an LP.

    If you insist on it DO get the Vibramate so you can go back to stock with no holes left.

    From my experience and a lot of the Bigsby discussions here a lot of folks want a Bigsby more because they look cool than because of how they work. They are an "old" technology with limited, though useful function. If you are not familiar with what they do and don't do, play several Bigsby equipped guitars & see what you think.

    edit to add, If it matters to you a Bigsby will add about a half pound of weight to the guitar.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2015
  16. Jayyj

    Jayyj Supporting Member

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    Bigsbys have a very particular feel and response and they're certainly not everyone's cup of tea, but they have a unique character that no other vibrato system perfectly replicates. Personally I've never found myself comfortable with Strat or Jazzmaster vibratos but the Bigsby is perfect for me. I guess it's quite possible some people choose them for pose value, but it's the only vibrato I have any interest in using.

    So yes, I'd happily stick one on a Les Paul. It worked out ok for Neil...

    [​IMG]
     
  17. Turi

    Turi Member

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    Who's Neil?
     
  18. kinmike

    kinmike Supporting Member

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    I recently put a B5 on a LP Special using a Vibramate. I noticed a stiffer feel to the strings. I assume it was due to the longer string length past the tune o matic. I use .011's and it feels like .012's now.

    Mike
     
  19. rummy

    rummy Member

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    Neil Young?
     
  20. Jayyj

    Jayyj Supporting Member

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    Yeah, sorry, that's Neil Young's favourite Les Paul, a heavily modded early Goldtop. The Bigsby gets a lot of use on that one...
     

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